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In India, the legal age for marriage is 18, but more than half of the country's women are married and starting families by their 15th birthdays. On average, women make up only 6 percent of India's workforce—but that is changing.

Over the past decade, hundreds of U.S. companies have outsourced jobs to India. Over 300,000 Indians are employed as customer service phone operators. One of these workers is 29-year-old mother Bharti, who works from 8:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.—literally through the middle of the night. Bharti rarely spends more than 15 minutes at a time with her husband or son. She says she hasn't spent a night with her husband in two months.

"My ultimate dream is to have our own flat, and Ishu [her son] have his own room, and I'm not working at all," Bharti says. "I would love to teach dance. That's what I want—a simple, very small life."

These jobs imported from the West are changing Indian culture, especially how families are structured, says The Oprah Winfrey Show correspondent Lisa Ling. "Their lives are in reverse. They adopt these American, Western lives at night and come back and try to live their Indian lives during the day," she says. "The mothers are still obligated, even though they're working all night long, to come and cook first thing in the morning, pick up the kids during the day. Their duties have multiplied."
FROM: Moms Around the World
Published on October 23, 2006


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